If there is one thing that South Africans love, it is their Braai (BBQ), but with all the scares around eating grilled meat, some are querying whether this is still possible, and a Saffa who cannot braai is totally lost. How are they going to watch rugby now, or just have a nice day with friends around the pool or in the lapa of an evening?
Never fear, help is at hand, fellow Saffas, and you can STILL have your beloved braai – and in a healthy way too! When the scent of your neighbour’s braai tempts you to cook your own food on the grill, consider marinating your meat first.
Carcinogens – substances capable of causing cancer – are produced when meats (animal proteins) are cooked at high temperatures, so grilled meats can certainly increase the levels of carcinogens in the body. Marinating can reduce the formation of one type of potential carcinogen associated with grilling – use an acidic marinade such as vinegar or citrus juice. And no carcinogens are produced with grilled vegetables, so you can grill all the veggies you want.


In addition to marinating meat and sticking to grilled veggies, the American Institute for Cancer Research suggests cooking lean cuts of meat in the centre of the grill to reduce flare-ups and charring, and precooking the meat in a microwave, oven or stove.
To avoid food poisoning, be sure to discard the marinade in which you soaked uncooked meat, poultry and fish after you remove the food for grilling. If you want some for basting, set aside a bit – about one-third of a cup – before you’ve put the meat in to marinate.
Choosing leaner meats and avoiding processed meats like hot dogs and fatty sausages also lowers the cancer risk of a barbecue.
Other best practices for grilling include:

  • Flipping meats with a spatula or tongs to avoid piercing that lets juices run out.
  • Using tin foil between the meat and the flames
  • Keeping a water spray-bottle on hand to keep flames in check
  • Not squirting starter fluid into coals while meats are cooking
  • Fruits that are firm-fleshed do best when grilled. Try peaches, nectarines, plums, bananas, pineapple chunks and strawberries


Marinades that Tenderise & Flavour

The following recipes are for marinades that will both tenderise and flavour your meat and poultry as well as being cancer-preventive

Tangy Yoghurt-Spice Marinade

Yield: Makes about 1 2/3 cups

  • 5 cups low-fat yogurt
  • 2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 2 tsp. minced garlic cloves
  • 2 tsp. ground coriander
  • 1 tsp. ground turmeric
  • 2 tsp. minced fresh ginger (or 1 tsp. dried, ground ginger)
  • Salt and white pepper, to taste


  1. Place all ingredients in a blender and combine at low speed.
  2. Pour into large, wide and shallow non-metal casserole dish or mixing bowl.
  3. Add food to be grilled and turn to coat all sides.
  4. Cover and refrigerate at least 1 hour.
  5. When ready to grill, drain and discard marinade.
  6. Thread skewers with food. Grill, turning often to prevent charring.
  7. If desired, make additional marinade for basting (but do not baste with used marinade to avoid food poisoning from raw meat juices).


Herbed Dijon Marinade & Basting Sauce

Yield: Makes about 1 cup

  • 3 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped shallots
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely minced
  • 3 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
  • 2 Tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 Tbsp. grated lemon peel
  • 1 Tbsp. finely minced fresh thyme, or 1/2 tsp. crushed dried thyme
  • 3/4 tsp. crushed dried tarragon


  1. In medium bowl, combine all ingredients.
  2. Pour half into plastic container with lid to reserve for basting while grilling.
  3. Place other half of mixture into large non-metal casserole dish or mixing bowl.
  4. Add food to be grilled and turn to coat all sides.
  5. Cover and refrigerate at least 1 hour.
  6. When ready to grill, drain well and discard marinade.


Marinating Chicken with Lemon Citrus Marinade

Yield: 1.5 cups

  • 1 cup orange juice
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup lime juice
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp. ground coriander
  • 1 tsp. lemon-pepper seasoning


  1. Mix all ingredients together in large, wide and shallow non-metal casserole dish or mixing bowl.
  2. Add food to be grilled and turn to coat all sides.
  3. Cover and refrigerate for 1-6 hours.
  4. When ready to grill, remove meat and discard marinade.


Asian Marinade

Yield: 1 2/3 cups

  • 3/4 cup hoisin sauce
  • 1/4 cup rice wine vinegar or cooking sherry
  • 1/4 cup sesame oil
  • 1/3 cup orange juice
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger root
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 2 chopped scallions
  • 1 Tbsp. honey


  1. In a medium bowl, stir together soy sauce, vinegar, olive oil, orange juice, ginger, garlic, mustard, and brown sugar.
  2. Pour over meat in a shallow container.
  3. Make sure all meat is submerged in marinade.
  4. Cover, and refrigerate for 2- 6 hours.
  5. When ready to grill, remove meat and discard marinade.


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